web analytics

Categorized | Outdoors

FeederWatch asks: whose feathers get ruffled?

 

Downy woodpecker by Erroll Tasking

Annual winter survey collects data about feeder birds

For more than 30 years, people who feed wild birds have been reporting their observations to Project FeederWatch to track trends in bird populations. This helps scientists better understand what happens to birds facing challenges such as climate change, disease, and habitat loss. FeederWatchers can also contribute to new research on feeder-bird behavior. Now is the time to sign up for or renew participation in this long-running citizen-science project.
Participants make two-day counts from November through early April. They can spend as much or as little time as they like collecting data, so it is one of the easiest projects to try. Even counting birds once or twice all winter is a valuable contribution. But many people love the project so much, they count birds every weekend.

“In addition to reporting which species visit their feeders, people can now report bird behavior, too,” says project leader Emma Greig. “We want to learn more about the ‘dominance hierarchy,’ or who’s got the ‘upper wing’ when it comes to competition at the feeder. Who gets displaced by whom? Is bigger always better? Do birds fight more with their own kind or other species? There are so many questions to answer and this is the first time anyone has been able to ask those questions on a continental scale.”

So far, analyses of interactions for 136 species from FeederWatch sites for the last season have produced interesting results. In some cases, size matters, so that puts the mild-mannered Wild Turkey at the top since a chickadee is not likely to evict a turkey that’s found a feast. Starlings, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers appear to follow a rare triangular form of dominance (starlings dominate red-headed woodpeckers, who dominate red-bellied woodpeckers, who dominate starlings), but more data are needed to confirm the pattern. 

Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. To join tens of thousands of other FeederWatch participants, sign up online at FeederWatch.org or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In Canada, contact Bird Studies Canada at (888) 448-2473, toll free.

In return for a participation fee of $18 in the U.S. ($15 for Cornell Lab members) and $35 in Canada, participants receive the FeederWatch Handbook and Instructions with tips on how to successfully attract birds to feeders, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, and a calendar. Participants also receive Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings. Canadians receive membership in Bird Studies Canada.

This post was written by:

- who has written 14667 posts on Cedar Springs Post Newspaper.


Contact the author

Leave a Reply

*

code

advert
Kent Theatre
Advertising Rates Brochure
Ensley Team Five Star Realty
Cedar Car Co

Get the Cedar Springs Post in your mailbox for only $35.00 a year!